11/07/2013 12:27PM

Balmoral: Bee A Magician, Captaintreacherous lead a parade of stars in American Nationals

Derick Giwner
Bee A Magician and Captaintreacherous are ranked one-two in the current Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll.

The leading candidates for Harness Horse of the Year, the 3-year-old trotting filly Bee A Magician and the 3-year-old pacing colt Captaintreacherous, head an all-star cast that will perform in the eight American National races on Saturday night at Balmoral Park.

Ranked No. 1 in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, Bee A Magician was supplemented to the $118,000 3-year-old filly trot for $10,000 by owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee.  Trainer Nifty Norman will have Brian Sears in the sulky when she goes after the 16th consecutive victory of her undefeated 2013 campaign in the seven-horse race.

Second-ranked Captaintreacherous, the 2012 North American champion pacer as a 2-year-old, is competing in the $256,000 3-year-old colt and gelding pace, the richest race on what the Chicago Tribune calls “the best star-quality program in the 67-year history of Chicago harness racing.”

[DRF HARNESS: Watch the stars of Harness Racing in the American Nationals at Balmoral Park - LIVE on DRF!]

“It’s easily the best night we’ve ever had,” said Phil Langley, a member of the hierarchy at Balmoral, now-defunct Sportsman’s Park and Maywood Park for nearly 50 years and president of the U.S. Trotting Association. “It’s incredible and it all came about because they held the Breeders Crown earlier (on Oct. 19).”

Seven of the horses racing in the American Nationals won their Breeders Crown races.

Bee A Magician’s last start came in the $500,000 Breeders Crown filly trot. Competing on a sloppy track at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, she won by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:52 4/5.

“She came out of the race really good and we were looking ahead to the Moni Maker on Nov. 30 at the New Meadowlands,” Norman said. “That race was six weeks away and we thought ‘Maybe we should look for a race before then.’ Balmoral always has been a very good track and the supplement wasn’t a crazy amount.

“She has been an unbelievable horse to train. She hasn’t been her best a couple of times but she still pulled it off. The funny thing is she seems to be getting stronger at the end of the year.”

If there is an upset on Saturday night, the most likely perpetrator would appear to be Frau Blucher, second-place finisher in the Breeders Crown final.

While Bee A Magician hasn’t raced since the Breeders Crown, Captaintreacherous returned to action in last weekend’s Monument Circle at Hoosier Park and was upset, losing by a half-length to longshot Dedi’s Dragon. It was only his second defeat in 14 starts this year.

According to his trainer, he had an excuse.

“After the race we scoped him and he scoped clean, but the day after we did a blood culture and it showed some mild muscle enzymes and that’s why he tied up during the race,” Alagna said. “When he finished second it was like the world was coming to end but there was a reason he was not on top of his game. The blood report told us why.

“We brought him back to Chicago and worked on his blood count. As long as his blood work came back in the normal range we were confident we could get him ready for this weekend.

“If he races well we have the possibility of taking on aged horses at the Meadowlands in the $500,000 TVG Stakes on Nov. 30. The thoroughbreds do it quite a bit (pit 3-year-olds against older horses in the fall) but you don’t see it much in harness racing. He’d be trying to break new ground.”

In the American National, Lucan Hanover looks like the most dangerous of Captaintreacherous’ nine rivals. The gelding finished third in both the Little Brown Jug and the Breeders Crown and was a close fourth in the Messenger after a tough trip.

Of the high profile horses in the American Nationals, third ranked I Luv The Nitelife is facing arguably the toughest field in the $161,000 3-year-old filly pace.

Flaunting a 14-race résumé consisting of 13 triumphs and a third, she will take on nine opponents and among them are Charisma Hanover, winner of three straight at Yonkers Raceway and The Meadows, Indiana-bred champion Always About Katey and Illinois-bred champion Auniqueacquisition.

[DRF HARNESS: Read more on I Luv The Nitelife in the American National]

Another of the sport’s most esteemed ladies, fifth-ranked Maven will meet male opponents for the first time in the $200,000 aged trot.

“If she was racing well against the girls (10 wins in 13 starts) we thought at the end of the year we were going to see how she could do against the boys,” trainer Jonas Czernyson said. “She has been almost as fast as all (eight) of them.”

[DRF HARNESS: Read more on Maven racing against the boys]

Saturday’s race isn’t an easy assignment. Winning entails getting the best of Market Share, who last year won the American National for 3-year-old male trotters and currently is ranked No. 10 in the poll.

Sixth-ranked Foiled Again and eighth-ranked Pet Rock head the field of 10 in the $200,000 aged pace. The 9-year-old Foiled Again is the richest North American horse in harness history with a bankroll of $5,705,968 and he won by a nose over the 4-year-old Pet Rock in the Breeders Crown. But in last weekend’s Hoosier Park Pacing Derby, Pet Rock prevailed by 3/4ths of a length over Foiled Again.

The storyline is similar in the race for 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters. In their Breeders Crown race, Spider Blue Chip edged Creatine by a neck but in the Carl Erskine at Hoosier their order of finish was reversed and Creatine was victorious by a head.

The other two American Nationals are for 2-year-old pacers.

Coming off a third-place finish in the Breeders Crown, Southwind Silence looks like the class act in the $115,000 filly race and Bushwacker and Somesizesomestyle seem to have the best credentials in the wide open race for colts and geldings. Both races will have 10 starters.

Post time for the 13-race extravaganza at Balmoral on Saturday is 8:10pm E.S.T.